The sweetness of success
Updated: Sep 24, 2022
Survival week (noun): definition: a week filled with so many unrelated stressors that the main goal is to get through each minute, not have a complete mental breakdown, and get through to the following week which hopefully will be better.
Have you ever had a survival week? I know you have because everyone has. When you are in the midst of it, the idea of talking about success seems ridiculous. Striving for success (in any type of situation) when we are just trying not to die seems like looking for sprinkles when your family is starving.
This last 10 days was one of those periods for me. Yes, even coaches have periods of overwhelm and stress.
When I find myself in a situation like this, I do what I would do for anyone else in this situation. I ask what I can do to make it a little better.
How can I support you?
What can I do to make your life a little easier while you go through this?
How can I care for you?
Yes, I literally wrote in my notebook, how can I support myself today? How can I solve for being so tired?
And as always, when prompted with a question, my brain came up with an answer. This time it kind of surprised me though.
"I am going to plan for small successes today."
Wait, what?!?! I am in the middle of trying not to crash and burn and I came up with planning small successes?
Despite my surprise, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Achieving success has an underpinning of autonomy and control (I wasn’t feeling a lot of control). Achieving success feels great (I wasn’t feeling great).
I was going to PLAN small successes for my day to support myself. I was going to bring attention to the things I could do.
Now there is a nuance to this. I wasn’t setting small goals, I was planning small successes. This may seem like semantics but semantics matter because of the emotions that we attach to certain words.
Let me give you an example:
Chore vs. task vs. goal vs. success.
I think we can all agree that a chore and a success don’t elicit the same visceral response.
Or what about setting a goal vs. planning a success. Sometimes setting a goal can feel challenging, exciting, and motivating. But sometimes when we are overwhelmed it can feel out of reach and depressing.
I didn’t have it in me to set a goal but planning a success sounded so comforting.
So what were the successes I planned?
I planned to drink my water. I planned to share my struggles with a friend. I planned to get enough sleep. I planned to not beat myself up that I wasn’t doing all the things I had originally thought I would be (that one may have felt the best). These were things that I knew I could do regardless of the stress I was under. If I planned it, it could definitely happen. Done and done.
If you are overwhelmed, I get it. We all have moments that feel awful, moments that we feel we have no control. In these situations we can brace for drama or plan small successes (hint: bracing for drama is exhausting and doesn’t actually have any net gain). Planning small successes can give us that little bit of mental support that will get us through to next week faster.
What small success can you plan on today? See how it makes you feel.
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